By Paul MacDonald
Lance Ouwehand, the owner and president of B.C.’s Valiant Log Sort, has pretty much always wanted to run his own business—though he likely never thought the business would turn out to be as large as the log sort operations the company has now, and its close to 30 pieces of equipment, more than 20 years later.
And the wood chips that his equipment is producing are more in demand than ever with the shutdown and curtailment of a large number of sawmills in B.C.—mills that would be pumping chips into the fibre supply chain, for pulp and paper mills.
“It’s difficult to keep up with the demand—but we will keep up,” says Ouwehand, with determination.
Helping to meet that demand is some new equipment, the recently introduced CBI 7544 Flail Debarker and Disc Chipper. Combining the CBI Magnum Force Flail 604 and the CBI Magnum Force 754 Disc Chipper, the 7544 Flail Debarker/Disc Chipper combo offers a standalone solution for businesses that need maximum debarking and high-quality chip production all in one unit, says CBI.
The machine comes standard with three flails and the option to add a fourth for whole tree debarking. Powered by a CAT C-32, 1,200 HP engine, and 53’ long, this new CBI 7544 machine is now delivering quality wood chips for Valiant, and its pulp and paper customers.
Due to sawmill closures/curtailments, Valiant has seen wood chip demand increase tremendously. Consequently, they needed a new machine to support this demand. This new combined machine has allowed them to process increased volumes compared to their previous equipment—and additionally, they can process larger diameter logs, thus outsourcing less. The 7544 is said to be a unique machine in the market, offering a debarker and disc chipper on a single chassis, thus improving productivity and fuel efficiency while reducing costs.
The investment in CBI equipment, through dealer Frontline Machinery (see sidebar story on page 25), marks an extension of suppliers for Valiant, as they have two other portable log chippers at their operations, both Peterson models: a Peterson 5000H whole log chipper, and a 5000G whole log chipper, both of which continue to be consistent performers.
Ouwehand notes that Valiant is employing its chippers in a different way than most other users, in that in its locations, the chippers are stationary, rather than portable, as they would be in the bush.
He said that the CBI equipment has a proven track record, and they are working closely with Frontline to optimize the production of the relatively new 7544 combo unit. Lance’s two sons, Kyle and Nick, who are both Red Seal heavy-duty mechanics, are working with the Frontline Machinery people to manage some of the computer programming and system optimization for their various material feeds.
“We’re figuring it out and working with them to make this a successful piece of equipment,” says Ouwehand.
“The Frontline people are doing everything they can to make the equipment work for us.” Case in point: he noted they recently needed a part for the debarker portion of the 7544. “Within 45 minutes, they were there with the part,” says Ouwehand.
Kyle and Nick, and the young tech staff at Frontline, are the ones that are going to make this new equipment work, he says. “I’m too old for all this high technology.”
In making the decision to purchase new equipment, Ouwehand says he considers features such as low financing—but what he is truly looking for is solidly built equipment that is going to work, day-in, day-out, and for good parts and service support.
“Uptime is the key thing for us—the chipper is the heartbeat of our sort yard in Port Coquitlam.”
In total, Valiant now has three log sorting facilities—besides Port Coquitlam, there is also Maple Ridge and Princeton.
“The biggest thing in all our operations is keeping our equipment in good shape, and keeping it running,” he says.
While the company does buy new equipment, it makes those purchases selectively, and strategically.
“We can’t afford to be buying new equipment all the time,” he says. “Really, if you keep your equipment in good shape, and maintain it, you get a lot of life out of it.”
Much of the timber they handle at the sorts is harvested, through logging contractors, overseen by Valiant. Ouwehand feels that the best way to control the company’s destiny is to have control over its log supply—and he has steadily worked at that.
Ouwehand started the sort facility in Port Coquitlam some 24 years ago. Their site is on the north side of the Pitt River, about two kilometres north of the Fraser River. The site has had a forestry related operation on it for more than 120 years.
For many years, the Thomas Family ran a sawmill there. Ouwehand was very close with the family, and worked at the mill for many years, starting there as a teenager. “I spent a lot of time there—at 28, I had pretty much learned everything you needed to know to keep a mill going.
“But in my mind, I always wanted my own business,” explained Ouwehand. He moved on from the mill, and ran a successful log salvage operation on the Fraser River.
But he kept in touch with the Thomas Family, and when they decided to shut the mill down in the early 1990s, Ouwehand leased the land and started a small log sort operation there. “I had one piece of equipment to get it rolling, and then got another.” And another, and another. He was also a pioneer in shipping logs in containers to Asian markets.
Initially, the operation did not do any chipping—but these days, it has large chip supply contracts with both Harmac Pacific Pulp in Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island, and Howe Sound Pulp and Paper, on the Sunshine Coast. They have a reload facility for residuals, and have started a hog grinding business, with sales to Howe Sound Pulp and Paper and the Veolia Green Energy plant in Merritt.
Over the years, the business has steadily grown—even when others might have questioned that growth, and the expansion of the business. That, in fact, motivates Ouwehand. Years ago, someone had criticized him, saying there was no way he could build the business. “Anytime anyone says I can’t do something to me now, well, I just go ahead and do it,” he says.
That includes getting into chipping.
“I was never into chips at the beginning—but we need to use everything, from one end of the log to the other,” he says. Their equipment purchases at the beginning were Peterson chippers, including a used Peterson G5000 that had been run hard.
“I rebuilt that machine, put a lot of money into it to make it a decent operating machine.” The chipper continues to perform well, but it’s really designed to handle light wood, like SPF. “We’re doing more hemlock now, right out of the water, and the CBI machine does a good job with the heavy wood, and we can go to larger logs, up to 24 inches,” says Ouwehand.
They have a number of sorts at the Port Coquitlam yard. “We sort for a lot of different species,” says Ouwehand. They also have a log sales business, and do sorting and container loading of logs.
Having two different types of chippers is not really unusual for Ouwehand as he has a variety of heavy equipment.
In mobile equipment, in wheel loaders alone, he has Cat, Kawasaki, John Deere and Volvo models. In log loaders, he has John Deere, Hitachi and Madill equipment.
“I kind of go all over the map,” he says. “I’m not a believer in one brand of equipment.” Recent purchases included a Doosan log loader. “They are really good machines—with five cylinder engines, they are good on fuel efficiency. And the hydraulics are good on the machines. The hydraulics of equipment are really where it’s at for us—it’s really the heart of the machines.”
His son, Nick, is completely trained in hydraulics, and is their go-to guy for troubleshooting hydraulic issues on any of the equipment.
The operation also has a Kawasaki 95Z wheel loader, and it has proven to be a steady workhorse at the sort.
The Kawasaki equipment is handled by dealer Wajax, the Cat equipment by Finning, the Deere equipment is handled by Brandt Tractor, and Volvo by Great West Tractor. Woodland Equipment Inc. sells and services the Peterson equipment in B.C.
They have a processor, a Volvo EC220EFC with a Waratah HTH 622C head, for handling oversized wood. They also have a Nicholson debarker line.
Ouwehand says he is fortunate in that he has employees with extensive experience to look after everything from transporting wood from the bush, to chipping to chip transportation.
In recent years, Ouwehand was looking to take a step back, and perhaps retire. “But then the boys showed a lot of interest in getting involved with the company,” he says. And he takes pride in his sons achieving their Red Seal certifications, and taking on more responsibilities in the business. Ouwehand now plans on being around for a while. He has some recreational property, and a boat that he likes to spend time on. “I love all that stuff—but I like going to work.”
Frontline Machinery, the dealer for CBI Equipment, is based in Chilliwack, B.C., and is a family owned and operated mobile heavy equipment supplier specializing in the wood biomass, aggregate processing, and waste and recycling industries.
The company was born after the Todd Family decided to evolve from a long history of working in the organics industry. After spending years in that business, they understood heavy equipment and the needs of the industry.
With this expertise under their belt, they used that knowledge to make the most of their new endeavor, specializing in renting and selling grinders, shredders, crushers, and screeners. They hunted down brands across the world to find the best equipment for customers.
In order to meet market demands, Frontline Machinery recently opened a new branch in Woodstock, Ontario. With a regional customer focus, this branch offers new and used crushing, screening, grinding, shredding and material handling equipment options for sale and rent, in addition to an extensive inventory of spare and wear parts.
“We are thrilled to officially open our facility in Woodstock,” says Frontline Machinery President, Daryl Todd. “The timing is key as we continue to build our presence in that market. The opening of this facility ensures new and existing customers in the Ontario region will receive the highest level of quality service that we have built our reputation on.”
Like their flagship location in Chilliwack, Frontline Ontario will be carrying and servicing the same lines of industrial mobile tracked mounted material processing, handling and measuring equipment including CBI, Keestrack, Neuenhauser, Edge Innovate, Optical Belt Scale and more. The new branch also offers a full-service mechanical shop and on-site field technical and mechanical support.
The new branch is located at #3 – 1099 Commerce Way, Woodstock, ON, and phone is 1-226-242-0928.
On the Cover:
Building components manufacturer Katerra recently opened North America’s highest volume cross-laminated timber (CLT) factory in Spokane Valley, Washington, and Logging and Sawmilling Journal has all the details on the new production facility beginning on page 28. The new plant has an annual manufacturing capacity of 185,000 cubic metres, the equivalent of 13 million square feet of 5-ply panels (Cover photo courtesy of Katerra Inc.).
Advocating safety—in all parts of logging
The BC Forest Safety Council is a leader in forest safety, and its employees such as Mike Pottinger are great advocates for industry safety, from the bush to the repair shop.
COFI Conference coming up in April
Logging and Sawmilling Journal outlines the issues and previews the B.C. Council of Forest Industries’ (COFI) annual convention coming up in April in Prince George, B.C., the largest gathering of the forest sector in Western Canada.
Giving ‘er in B.C. logging…
Young logging contractors may be in short supply these days, but the ones that are out there, like B.C.’s Brandon Connolly, are extremely effective with their equipment, and are—as Connolly says—“giving ‘er”.
More chips, please!
B.C.’s Valiant Log Sort has seen big-time growth in its wood chipping operations, with the closure/curtailment of a number of sawmills, and it has added to its equipment line-up with a new CBI 7544 Flail Debarker and Disc Chipper.
Manufacturing CLT state-side—with Canadian lumber
Building components manufacturer Katerra has opened a $150 million, high-volume cross-laminated timber (CLT) factory in Washington State—and feedstock, in the form of dimensional lumber, is all coming from Canada.
Breaking down wood—without breaking the bank
B.C. custom sawmiller Bob Jerke has discovered how to break down timbers into high volumes of boards without breaking the bank, thanks to a lower cost, manually-operated band sawmill.
Logging and Sawmilling Journal takes flight with this Tech Update, with a focus on drones in the forest industry.
Included in this edition of The Edge, Canada’s leading publication on research in the forest industry, are stories from Alberta Innovates and Canadian Wood Fibre Centre (CWFC).
The Last Word
The present may look gloomy for the B.C. Interior forest industry, but it is tackling adversity and planning for the future, explains columnist Jim Stirling.